Record HuntersAs of right now George Perry’s 1932, 22-pound, 4-ounce largemouth bass record is still intact. But who knows what may happen during the next spawn in the warm waters of California lakes that are home to those trout-gorging bass of such gigantic proportions.

In southern California, anglers are waiting not so patiently to see whether Dotty will make a re-appearance. Faithful followers of the big bass scene/wars will recall that Dotty, the 25-pound, 1-ounce fish taken and released last year by Mac Weakley from Dixon Lake, was the heaviest largemouth ever seen. As everyone knows, Weakley did not submit the fish as the new record contender because it had inadvertently been hooked outside the mouth. Dotty, sometimes known as Spot, gets her name from the small black “beauty mark” on her right gill cover.

Dotty has already been hooked and landed three times. “By now she probably thinks it’s part of the spawning process,” said Jed Dickerson, who caught her in 2003, and who is one of Weakley’s regular fishing pals. I’ve been fishing these past days with Jed, Mack and Mike Winn on Lake Dixon where the behemoth bass lives—if she still does.

Since last year’s catch, and based on the grueling schedule they spend in this big fish hunt, the bass-fishing trio of Winn, Weakley and Dickerson are considered top contenders in shattering Perry’s record. But they’re far from alone. Mike Long, who has also caught Dotty, and who has taken more than 250 bass over 10 pounds, and his partner John Kerr, are serious heavies in the chase.

Thus far this year, Jed has taken two fish topping 10 while Mac has a 16-pounder to his credit. Both Mac and Mike are truly possessed now says the more laid-back Dickerson. “They got the spell on them,” he said while fishing.

Just as I was leaving southern California, some more big fish began moving onto their staging areas at Dixon. If Dotty—or another record-smasher—is taken this year, don’t look for her to be released. Add to this the teaser that Dickerson and Weakley are still mulling over whether to submit record applications for their earlier catches and you’ve got an interesting scenario.

It’s one we’re going to watch closely.